Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Abundantly More by Veronica Janus
Zachary seemed perfect the day he was born, but six days later doctors discovered he was suffering from the number one birth defect in America: Congenital Heart Defect. Over nine long weeks, Zachary battled as doctors worked to repair him, while his mother found her own broken heart in need of emotional and spiritual repair. Abundantly More shares the author’s journey of hope and healing, and offers practical knowledge on how to navigate life in a pediatric ICU.
Read an excerpt!
An army clad in blue scrubs filled the large fluorescent lit room. Its white walls and ceiling made it seem even brighter, like heaven. Despite the number of people purposefully going about their business it was eerily quiet. If not for the pumping sound of the bypass machine and the rhythmic beeps from the multiple monitors you could almost hear everyone’s heartbeat. As they carried out their own tasks the focus was still on the man hovering over the lifeless 7-pound body on the operating table. He was like god in that room. The slightest movement, twitch of the face or word that left him had immediate attention from those around him. He had full command and respect, and rightfully so. He was a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon and considered one of the best in the field.
The microwave sized black box next to the operating table kept the baby alive. The surgeon depended on its guaranteed function. If it failed, everything failed, including the baby. The tiny body had been cooled from a normal 100.4o F (39o C) to 82.4o F (28o C) using medication and ice. The heart was quiet and cold. The baby’s arms were stretched out to the sides like Jesus on the cross and his body was draped in blue surgical covering. Only his peaceful face and a small opening in his chest, the size of an orange, were exposed. The baby was technically dead. His state of being was necessary in order to give him life—life that only the man, who was now a step below the ultimate Giver, could grant. The man had performed hundreds of these surgeries, an impressive resume, but each case was unique and brought its surprises. He did not know what he was going to find deep in the center of the body until he had made a midline incision, broken the sternum, cut through the multiple layers of tissue and muscle to finally reach the most important of organs, the heart.
The man’s eyes were strained from not blinking for so long and he had an itch on the right side of his nose which he tried to relieve with a small facial wiggle. Except for his swiftly but steadily moving hands he remained completely still. The room was kept cool in the low 60s but a sweat pearl still rolled down his temple along the tightly covered head piece. Fog had built up inside his left eyeglass. As he held the tweezers, which was attached to the too-small-to-see needle in a firm grip and was ready to insert its sharp point into the last place along the patch, he raised his head toward the ceiling, closed his eyes for relief and absorbed the last bit of energy to finish mending this part of the infant’s broken heart.
The man gently poked and probed along the septum wall to see if there were any other apparent holes. He spotted a small one, low and deep, creating another opening between the right and left chambers of the tiny heart. He decided to leave it alone. It was too risky to go down there with a needle among all those invisible conduction systems buried in the heart muscle. He would do far more damage than the small hole would ever pose. His eyes left the defeated battleground and moved up to locate the atrial septum defect, another hole to close. He stretched out his right hand and the cold needle holder was placed in this cupped palm. He began sewing directly into the lifeless, and by now almost white tissue and muscle. Once finished, he had two minutes to spare before the bypass machine would stop its work, ceasing oxygen to the brain and causing brain damage to the baby. He signaled his team they were closing up the heart. The long chest incision was glued shut needing no stitches. The re-warming of the patient’s body began by covering him in warm thick cotton blankets. The baby regained perfect sinus rhythm and a clear tube was inserted into his mouth, through the trachea and into the lungs. He was now intubated and the baby was ready to be weaned from the bypass machine. It went without difficulty.
The man motioned to one of the nurses and she quickly left the room. She thought this was the best part of surgery, being able to deliver good news to the parents. Her chestnut colored hair swayed back and forth as she hurried down the hallway to deliver a long awaited message.
Veronica Janus is a mother of three young children and a self-taught expert on pediatric cardiac issues. Janus founded Forever Moments, a volunteer program in which she artistically photographs critical care babies that may never get the chance to be memorialized. She also has created a support group called Abundantly More to help families with children in the hospital. She holds degrees in Communications, Education, and Theatre, and was a journalist for 10 years.
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